Almost a year to the day since he was badly burned in an arson attack on his West Bank home by alleged Jewish terrorists that killed his parents and baby brother, six-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha left hospital in central Israel on Friday.
Dawabsha has spent the last year in the Children’s Hospital of Sheba Medical Center (also known as Tel Hashomer Hospital) in Ramat Gan, where he was treated for second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body caused in the July 31, 2015 attack on his family home in the village of Duma.
His grandfather, Hussein Dawabsha, thanked the medical staff who have been caring for his grandson, the Ynet news website reported Friday.
“They are the best doctors in the world and they saved Ahmed’s life,” Hussein Dawabsha said. “We are now the only family he has, and I will not leave his side until my final day.”
Hussein told the Walla website that the day generated mixed emotions, as the happiness of his grandson’s release sits alongside his ongoing anger at what happened to his family.
Shortly before his departure, Ahmed celebrated his sixth birthday in a party at the hospital attended by friends from Ramallah, Lod and Taibeh, who brought balloons, a crown and a cake.
“This child has been through a terrible trauma and he deserves to be happy,” his grandfather said. “Last year, several days after his last birthday, an awful disaster befell him, and this is the first time he is celebrating without his mother and father.”
Hussein Dawabsha also expressed sadness over his grandson’s return to Duma.
“We are going home with a heavy heart. It is hard for us to return to those terrible scenes of the burned house,” Hussein said.
Prof. Raz Somech, the head of the children’s ward where the six-year-old has been treated, paid tribute Friday to the medical staff and supporters who helped Ahmed over the past 12 months.
“Ahmed’s treatment was very intensive and took the efforts of Sheba’s entire medical team that slowly led to his recovery,” Somech said. “The supportive family and many volunteers did not move from his bedside, and were full partners in this long path that today allows Ahmed to run and smile, and return to the daily life of a boy of six.”
Following the attack, Ahmed was hospitalized for three weeks in intensive care, a hospital spokeswoman said, with “very serious injuries.” In August he was transferred to the regular children’s ward and underwent a total of 10 surgeries, including skin grafts.
“We have a long road ahead. It’s not a matter of a day or two or even a month; it will take a long time,” Hussein Dawabsha said at the time.
Ahmed will still have to return to the hospital several times a week for ongoing treatment.
Israelis, horrified by the attack, have raised hundreds of thousands of shekels for Ahmed, including NIS 366,000 (about $100,000) raised by the Tag Meir anti-racism organization in a crowdfunding campaign.
Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, of Jerusalem, and unnamed 16-year-old minor were indicted in January in the attack, which led to the immediate death of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and soon after the deaths of his parents Riham and Saad. Ben-Uliel was indicted for murder; the minor, who is not alleged to have directly participated in the firebombing, was charged as an accomplice.